25 Sep 2015

Nigel Farage: ‘Put country before party’

Nigel Farage says achieving a British exit from the EU in the forthcoming in/out referendum is more important than Ukip.

Speaking at Ukip’s annual conference in Doncaster, Mr Farage said although there were elections in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London next year, winning the referendum was the priority.

He said: “I have to say to you, as the leader of this party, as somebody who has given over 20 years of his life to helping build this party, while of course I want us to do well as a party and succeed in those elections there is something that is actually dearer to my heart than party politics, even if it’s Ukip.

‘Once in a lifetime opportunity’

“I want us to summon every resource of energy that we can find in our bodies and our minds, I want us to dedicate ourselves wholly to winning that referendum. This is the moment to put country before party. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get back the independence and self-government of this nation.”

Earlier, Mr Farage said there was a 50/50 chance of Britain voting to leave the EU and he would devote all his time to campaigning. He said: “I used to think we had a 33 per cent chance of winning, but now I think it is 50 per cent.”

This month, Mr Farage launched an independent Ukip campaign for a British exit, amid speculation Prime Minister David Cameron could opt for a vote next year, but has said he will not seek designation for himself or his party as official leaders of the no campaign.

He has pledged to work with other “no” groups in the run-up to the vote, which will be held before the end of 2017.

A new group called Leave.EU is expected to be created, bringing together all the no campaigns under one umbrella organisation.

‘Significant inroads’

Mr Farage said: “Ukip can be proud of the four million votes cast for it this year. But that was under first past the post.

“Next year there are proportional elections in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London, where Ukip will make significant inroads and build our elected and electoral presence.

“But above all we are looking forward to the referendum we have fought for for so long. Ukip is committed to leaving the EU, and we have always said that we would work with anybody who shared the same aim.”

Despite picking up nearly four million votes in the general election, only one Ukip MP was elected. Mr Farage failed to win a seat.